History of the Press
Based in Sandpoint, Idaho, Lost Horse Press is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, independent press that publishes poetry titles of high literary merit, and makes available fine contemporary literature through cultural, educational and publishing programs and activities. Christine Holbert, founder and publisher of Lost Horse Press, earned her publishing degree from Eastern Washington University in 1998. At that time, she realized that few independent presses in the region could afford to hire a full-time editor or book designer. She understood that the place to pursue a serious publishing career was New York, but since she didn’t want to live in the City, Holbert decided to found a literary press so she could have a job. And live in the country. So, in June 1998, she established Lost Horse Press in her home south of Spokane, Washington. Holbert and the Press moved to Sandpoint, to a Mennonite-built log cabin in the Sunnyside area, in 1999. There—by the shores of 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille—Christine reviews and edits manuscripts, designs covers and text, typesets books, designs catalogs, promotes Lost Horse books, manages marketing, oversees interns and volunteers, and negotiates with distributors, bookstores, printers, authors, and other publishers. Christine Holbert has guided to completion such outstanding titles as Love by Valerie Martin, Composing Voices: A Cycle of Dramatic Monologues by Robert Pack, Thistle by Melissa Kwasny, Woman on the Cross and Tales of a Dalai Lama by Pierre Delattre, Just Waking by Christopher Howell, The Baseball Field at Night by Patricia Goedicke, and A Change of Maps by Carolyne Wright, among others. In its fifteen years of existence, the Press has published sixty books of poetry and twelve fiction titles, many of which have won national awards.
The Lost Horse Series for Emerging Writers is dedicated to publishing and promoting the early books of deserving authors whose work is ignored by conglomerate publishers who require their authors to already have an established audience. Emerging writers—especially poets—have few publishing houses willing to advocate their work. Few publishers will take the literary or the financial risk to publish an unknown author whose work may not sell well. Lost Horse Press has published eight previously unknown poets and writers. One such title, Scott Poole’s The Cheap Seats, has won two national book awards. In 2006, Lost Horse Press teamed up with poet, Marvin Bell, to introduce a new series for emerging poets, New Poets | Short Books. “The idea for this series is indebted to Poets of Today, the Scribner series edited by John Hall Wheelock from 1954 to 1962, which published in eight volumes first books by twenty-four poets, three poets at a time under a single cover. . . . The increased promotion in recent years of American poetry on many levels owes much to a dumbing-down of the art and the proliferation of novelty acts. Yet the country is also chock-full of little-published poets of higher seriousness. This 3-in-1 series, then, is intended to sample a range of poets who have yet to publish a book and have generally gone about their writing in private. It will not be run as a contest, nor will it accept submissions.” Volume IV was released in February 2010.
In addition to running the Press, Holbert is dedicated to contributing to the community: She organizes creative writing workshops, an annual writing conference for adults, literary readings, and an annual book contest—The Idaho Prize for Poetry—to promote the literary arts in Idaho and nationally. In 2001, Lost Horse Press and the East Bonner County Library introduced a program—Young Writers of the Lost Horse—to help children in elementary through high school strengthen their writing skills and heighten their interest in writing. These workshops are provided at no charge to Bonner County students, and are designed to give children from grades 5 through 12 a fresh perspective on the process and pleasure of writing.
The Idaho Prize, established by Lost Horse Press in 2004, is an annual national poetry competition offering prize money plus publication for a book-length manuscript. The 2004 contest was judged by poet Marvin Bell. The winner of the first annual Idaho Prize is poet Alvin Greenberg of Boise, Idaho with his manuscript Hurry Back. Mr. Greenberg’s book was released in December 2004. Melissa Kwasny’s Thistle won the 2005 Idaho Prize for Poetry. Her book is currently available from Lost Horse Press and from our distributor, the University of Washington Press.
Lost Horse Press sponsors the annual Lost Horse Writers’ Conference, a literary celebration bringing together readers, scholars, and writers for three days of intensive creative writing workshops, readings by regionally and nationally distinguished writers, lectures, panel discussions, book signings, collaborative presentations, and intimate literary discussions. No other program of this scope exists in north Idaho, benefiting the experienced writer and the neophyte, as well as the ardent reader of contemporary Northwest literature. Since 2000, the Lost Horse Writers’ Conference has presented free public readings featuring nationally celebrated writers such as Marvin Bell, Marilynne Robinson, Pamela White Hadas, William Kittredge, Annick Smith, Rick Bass, Quincy Troupe, John Keeble, Claire Davis, Kim Barnes, Dow Mossman, Pierre Delattre, Carlos Reyes, James Grabill, Christopher Howell, Scott Poole, Greg Glazner and many others who have distinguished the stages of Oden Hall and The Panida Theater. Additionally, Holbert has invited world-class musicians to Sandpoint—to collaborate with writers and poets on stage—including jazz bassists Ron Carter and Glen Moore, as well as Sandpoint’s classical guitarist, Leon Atkinson.
At this time, Christine is building a studio for Lost Horse Press, a timber-frame building that will also accommodate Lost Horse Press’s 1896 Chandler & Price platen press on which broadsides and chapbooks will be printed.
When she is designing books, Christine is inspired by a poem by Anne Bradstreet. The first published poet in America, Anne Bradstreet was a Puritan mother of eight children. Her poem “The Author to Her Book” was written in response to an edition of her collection, The Tenth Muse, which was published without her consent or knowledge. Even though publishing has changed much since Bradstreet penned her poem in the 1600s, some things don’t change: all poets are anxious about the appearance of their book, and how it will be received by the world.
The Author to Her Book
by Anne Bradstreet
Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobbling than is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save homespun cloth i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ‘mongst vulgars may’st thou roam.
In critic’s hands beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known;
If for thy father asked, say thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.
Lit Up! Woman has Made Literary Festival Into a Five Day Extravaganza
By Dan Webster, Staff writer
October 3, 2000
The Spokesman Review, Section: IN LIFE
Only a poet would use the word “vortex” in a sentence.
A poet or a physicist.
Christine Holbert is neither. She is, however, a publisher of poets.
And as one of the primary forces behind Get Lit!, Eastern Washington University’s third annual literary festival, she’s not unlike physics itself. Because when it comes to promoting Inland Northwest literature—indeed, literature period—Holbert is energy epitomized.
It’s been largely through Holbert’s efforts that, in just three years, Get Lit! Has grown from a mere one-day round of readings at The Met to a full five-day affair held at nine different locations.
Highlights of this year’s festival include Wednesday’s showing of the movie “Jesus’ Son,” which is adapted from Bonners Ferry writer Denis Johnson’s book; Thursday’s appearance by award-winning poet Quincy Troupe at EWU’s Showalter Auditorium; Saturday’s poetry slam at Mootsy’s tavern; and Sunday’s grand finale lineup of such distinguished poets and writers as Kim Barnes, William Kittredge, Claire Davis and, again, Johnson.
In between there are poetry and fiction readings, children’s events, at least one panel discussion and a closing night open-mike event.
Not that Holbert has done it alone. She belongs to a team of professionals and volunteers that includes Christopher Howell and Scott Poole, director and co-director of the EWU Press, both of whom are editors and poets with impeccable credentials.
And the festival gets plenty of local support from area businesses (including Metropolitan Mortgage, owner of The Met; Hotel Lusso and Auntie’s Bookstore), not to mention the numerous grants that have come in from various sources ($7,000 alone from the Washington Commission for the Humanities).
But it wouldn’t be unfair to say that, like Reggie Jackson and the 1977 New York Yankees, Holbert is the straw that stirs the drink. Holbert, after all, wrote the grant applications.
Poole is one of her biggest fans.
“She’s totally invaluable,” he says. “She has a way of getting people excited about a festival, not only promoting the idea of it, but getting people enthused.”
In Poole’s view, Holbert, whose title is Get Lit! coordinator, was key “not only in helping everyone envision what the event could be but also in putting all the pieces together to make it a reality.
“Without that,” he says, “this would never have happened.”
That’s high praise for someone who, not that many years ago, was busy raising three children and indulging her love of literature mostly by reading it. As her children got older, Holbert says, “I started looking for interests of my own. And literature was it.”
The New York native returned to school, finishing up the undergraduate work at EWU that she’d begun years before at SUNY Stony Brook. She continued on to earn a master’s degree at EWU in publishing.
It was while she was in graduate school, serving as managing editor of the EWU Press, that she knew she’d found her calling. She wanted a press of her own.
“But I didn’t want to leave the area,’” she says, “and there are not many small presses around. So one day I just decided to do it.”
By “it” Holbert means creating Lost Horse Press. Funded initially by Holbert herself, the press is her attempt to explore the kind of literaryfiction that most interests her. If she can convert it to nonprofit status, she says, she’ll be able to do in print what Get Lit! does in person: continue spotlighting regional writers and poets.
“Rather than move to where the publishing was,” she says, “I got together with Scott and decided to make this area a literary vortex”—there’s that word—“and I think that with Get Lit!, and with the reception that Lost Horse Press books have had, we’re on our way.’”
Of the six books that Lost Horse has in print (six more are on the way), three of the authors are scheduled to perform at Get Lit! – Howell (Through Silence: The Ling Wei Texts), Poole (Cheap Seats) and Spokane poet, Tom Davis (The Little Spokane).
That trio joins a distinguished group that features two-time American Book Award winner Troupe and a group of Montana writers, including Kittredge, Deirdre McNamer, Annick Smith and James Crumley.
Holbert is particularly proud of attracting Troupe, a nationally known poet from La Jolla, Calif. A friend of EWU creative writing professor and novelist John Keeble, Troupe represents what Get Lit!’s founders hope it will become: an event that promotes literature from the Inland Northwest while bringing the best literature to it.
So far, because of the connections of such locals as Howell and Keeble, the festival is doing just that.
“The first year we were lucky to get really good writers because of the people we knew,” Holbert says. “Now I have people asking me if they can come.”
One of those is Idaho novelist Johnson.
“He never wants to go anywhere; he never wants to talk to anyone,” Holbert says. “And yet he calls and says, ‘I’m ready to come. When is it, this October? I need to go to Paris, but I’ll schedule that around Get Lit!’”
The upshot of all this is obvious. If nothing else, it proves that Holbert and Get Lit! have good—dare we say it?—chemistry.
Christine Holbert, Publisher
Christine Holbert, founder and publisher of Lost Horse Press, earned her publishing degree from Eastern Washington University in 1998. At that time, she realized that few independent presses in the region could afford to hire a full-time editor or book designer. She understood that the place to pursue a serious publishing career was New York, but since she didn’t want to live in the City, Holbert decided to found a literary press so she could have a job. And live in the country. So, in June 1998, she established Lost Horse Press in her home south of Spokane, Washington. Holbert and the Press moved to Sandpoint, to a Mennonite-built log cabin in the Sunnyside area, in 1999. There—by the shores of 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille—Christine reviews and edits manuscripts, designs covers and text pages, typesets books, designs catalogs, promotes Lost Horse books, manages marketing, oversees interns and volunteers, and negotiates with distributors, bookstores, printers, authors, and other publishers. Holbert has guided to completion such outstanding titles as Love by Valerie Martin, Composing Voices: A Cycle of Dramatic Monologues by Robert Pack, Thistle by Melissa Kwasny, Woman on the Cross and Tales of a Dalai Lama by Pierre Delattre, Just Waking by Christopher Howell, The Baseball Field at Night by Patricia Goedicke, and A Change of Maps by Carolyne Wright, among others. In its fourteen years of existence, the Press has published fifty-three books of poetry and twelve fiction titles, many of which have won national awards.
Christi Kramer, Senior Editor
Christi Kramer, born in northern Idaho, is a graduate of George Mason University’s MFA program. She is currently a doctoral student in Language in Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia, considering poetry within traditions of reconciliation and resistance, while working with children exiled by war. Her poetry can be found in Foreign Policy in Focus; Sojourner’s Magazine; Beltway Quarterly; Best New Poets 2007; Practice New Writing + Art; and Lost Horse Press’s anthology I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights.
Carolyne Wright, Senior Editor
Carolyne Wright has published nine books and chapbooks of poetry, a collection of essays, and four volumes of translations from Spanish and Bengali. Her latest book is Mania Klepto: the Book of Eulene (Turning Point Books, 2011), featuring the post-modern alter-ego, Eulene. An earlier collection, Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire (Carnegie Mellon UP / EWU Books, 2nd edition 2005), won the Blue Lynx Prize and American Book Award. Wright’s investigative memoir of her experiences in Chile on a Fulbright Study Grant during the presidency of Salvador Allende, The Road to Isla Negra, received the PEN/Jerard Fund Award and the Crossing Boundaries Award from International Quarterly. Wright spent four years on Indo-U.S. Subcommission and Fulbright Senior Research fellowships in Kolkata, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh, collecting and translating the work of Bengali women poets and writers for an anthology in progress, A Bouquet of Roses on the Burning Ground, which received a Witter Bynner Foundation Grant and an NEA Fellowship in Translation, as well as a Fellowship from the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. A Seattle native who studied with Elizabeth Bishop and Richard Hugo, Wright has been a visiting writer at colleges, universities, schools, and conferences around the country. She moved back to Seattle in 2005, and teaches for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts’ Whidbey Writers Workshop MFA Program. A poem of hers appeared in The Best American Poetry 2009 (ed. David Wagoner) and the Pushcart Prize XXXIV: Best of the Small Presses (2010). She is a Senior Editor for Lost Horse Press, for which she is co-editing an anthology of poetry on women and work, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace.
Jason Allen, Web Developer
Jason Allen is a full-time web developer and IT consultant who holds a B.S. and MBA from University of Phoenix and who designs and codes for multiple clients. He also owns and runs the website www.propvault.com